Sunday, February 14, 2016

Red-winged Blackbird

On June 29, 2015 along the Layman Lakes on the Carleton College campus, I was scolded by this female Red-winged Blackbird. Nearby perched a fledgling—a young bird only a mother could love! Young songbirds are “blind, largely naked, and poorly coordinated at hatching.” In hatchlings, the eyes do not open until after their first week. By ten days, they increase their weight ten-fold, and grow to over half the adult size (Yasukawa and Searcy 1995). This baby was able to fly, but had difficulty nailing its landings.
DNA studies indicate that Red-winged Blackbirds are not very faithful mates. Males and females often copulate with birds outside the pair bond. Fledglings from the same nest are often step-siblings. Red-winged Blackbirds are among the most common of North American birds. They often damage crops and human efforts to control these blackbirds are a major source of mortality.

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